Dreams Underfoot [Secure eReader]
Click on image to enlarge.
eBook by Charles de Lint
eBook Category: Fantasy
Welcome to Newford....
Welcome to the music clubs, the waterfront, the alleyways where ancient myths and magic spill into the modern world. Come meet Jilly, painting wonders in the rough city streets; and Geordie, playing fiddle while he dreams of a ghost; and the Angel of Grasso Street gathering the fey and the wild and the poor and the lost. Gemmins live in abandoned cars, and skells traverse the tunnels below, while mermaids swim in the gray harbor waters and fill the cold night with their song.
Like Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale and John Crowley's Little Big,, de Lint's Dreams Underfoot is a must-read book not only for fans of urban fantasy but for all who seek magic in everyday life.
Dreams Underfoot contains the following stories:
Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair
The Stone Drum
That Explains Poland
The Sacred Fire
Winter was Hard
Pity the Monsters
Ghosts of Wind and Shadow
The Conjure Man
The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep
In the House of My Enemy
But for the Grace Go I
Our Lady of the Harbour
"The book you hold is neither a novel nor a simple gathering of short stories. Rather, it is a cycle of urban myths and dreams, of passions and sorrows, romance and farce woven together to create a tapestry of interconnected dramas, interconnected lives -- the kind of magic to be found at the heart of any city, among any tightly knit community of friends. If the imaginary city of Newford is more mythic, more mysterious than the cities you have known, that may be only because you've not seen them through Charles de Lint's eyes, through the twilight dreams he weaves out of language and music. Here he spreads these dreams before us and bids us, in the words of Yeats's poem, to tread softly, for urban magic is fleeting and shy... and its touch is a transformation."
TERRI WINDLING, CO-EDITOR OF THE YEAR'S BEST FANTASY
"Charles de Lint shows that, far from being escapism, contemporary fantasy can be the deep mythic literature of our time."
THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
"In de Lint's capable hands, modern fantasy becomes something other than escapism. It becomes folk song, the stuff of urban myth."
THE PHOENIX GAZETTE
Cover design by h. Productions
eBook Publisher: Charles de Lint
Fictionwise Release Date: May 2000
4 Reader Ratings:
The book you hold is neither a novel nor a simple gathering of short stories. Rather, it is a cycle of urban myths and dreams, of passions and sorrows, romance and farce woven together to create a tapestry of interconnected dramas, interconnected lives-- the kind of magic to be found at the heart of any city, among any tightly knit community of friends. If the imaginary city of Newford is more mythic, more mysterious than the cities you have known, that may be only because you've not seen them through Charles de Lint's eyes, through the twilight dreams he weaves out of language and music. Here he spreads these dreams before us and bids us, in the words of Yeats's poem, to tread softly, for urban magic is fleeting and shy....and its touch is a transformation.
Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, James Hillman, Louise-Marie von Franz and others have written eloquently and extensively about the importance of myth in our modern society, the need for tales rich in archetypal images to give coherence to fragmented modern lives. "Using archetypes and symbolic language," writes folklore scholar and author Jane Yolen, "[fantasy tales] externalize for the listener conflicts and situations that cannot be spoken of or explained or as yet analyzed. They give substance to dreams....[and] lead us to the understanding of the deepest longings and most daring visions of humankind. The images from the ancients speak to us in modern tongue though we may not always grasp the 'meanings' consciously. Like dreams, the meanings slip away, leaving us shaken into new awarenesses. We are moved by them, even when-- or perhaps because-- we do not understand them on a conscious level. They are penumbral, partially lit, and it is the dark side that has the most power. So when the modern mythmaker, the writer of literary fairy tales, dares to touch the old magic and try to make it work in new ways, it must be done with the surest of touches."
De Lint is one of those writers who mine this vein with a deft, sure touch. Readers new to his distinctive brand of "urban fantasy" might find his mix of ancient folklore motifs and contemporary urban characters somewhat startling-- for ours is a society that loves to separate and classify, putting "fantasy" fiction on a shelf far away from books of "realistic" or "mainstream" fiction (despite the fact that the mainstream shelves include works of modern fantasy by foreign authors such as Calvino, Allende and Garcia Marquez). While American book distributors and critics continue to build up genre walls, writers like de Lint are quietly laboring to take them down again, brick by brick, story by story. Forget the labels. Forget the assumptions you make when you think of fantasy or even short story collections. And then you will be able to fully enter the enchanted streets de Lint has created.
We enter Newford via the more familiar streets of Los Angeles, via the tales of Newford author Christy Riddell; and then de Lint leads us on to Newford itself, a North American city that might exist anywhere or nowhere, thousands of miles away or just past the next exit on the Inter-state. Like any city, Newford has its posh districts, its slums, its day-life and night-life and the twilight between; but most of all it's the street people, the downtown people, that de Lint wants us to meet: the buskers and artists, punkers and gypsies, street walkers and wizards and runaway kids, people for whom magic is not just a supernatural visitation but a manifestation of the soul's deepest longings and a bright spark of hope lodged within a desperate heart. The greatest magic on the streets of Newford is the magic of community, of friendship and love, support and compassion-- for these are the larger themes de Lint uses the bright symbols of folklore to address.
In Newford, creation is the supreme act of magic, whether that creation be a painting, a fiddle tune or a poem, an AIDS clinic or battered children's shelter, or one's own family and a harmonious way of life. By these acts we create magic in our own lives; by these acts, large and small, we reinvent the world. For de Lint, these acts are transformed into stories to nurture the growth of his Tree of Tales, which contains the collective stories of the world:
"The Tree of Tales," says de Lint's Conjure Man, "is an act of magic, an act of faith. Its existence becomes an affirmation of the power that the human spirit can have over its own destiny. The stories are just stories-- they entertain, they make one laugh or cry-- but if they have any worth they carry with them a deeper resonance that remains long after the final page is turned...."
The interconnected stories of the Newford cycle are a particularly lovely new limb on that ancient tree, and one that shall grow and flower beyond the pages of this single book as de Lint continues to explore Newford's myriad streets.
In his own city of Ottawa, in Canada, Charles de Lint is a novelist, a poet, a fiddler, a flute-player, a painter, a critic and folklore scholar; but most of all he is a magician: the kind who makes magic with his multi-disciplined creativity, with the tools of myth, folklore and fantasy. "I think those of us who write fantasy," said fellow author Susan Cooper in her Newbery Award acceptance speech, "are dedicated to making impossible things seem likely, making dreams seem real. We are somewhere between the Abstract and Impressionist painters. Our writing is haunted by those parts of our experience which we do not understand, or even consciously remember. And if you, child or adult, are drawn to our work, your response comes from that same shadowy land. ...I have been attempting definitions, but I am never really comfortable when writing about 'fantasy.' The label is so limiting. It seems to me that every work of art is a fantasy, every book or play, painting or piece of music, everything that is made, by craft and talent, out of somebody's imagination. We have all dreamed, and recorded our dreams as best we could."
In these pages, de Lint has recorded dreams: Jilly Coppercorn's and Geordie's, Sophie's and Christy's, Tallulah's and the dreams of Newford itself. There are dreams underfoot here, some fragile as spiders' webs, others solid as asphalt and brick-cobbled streets. As you walk into the heart of the city of Newford, remember: tread warily. Tread softly.
-- Terri Windling
(Co-editor of "The Year's Best Fantasy"
Weaver's Cottage, Devon, 1992
Copyright © 1993 by Charles de Lint